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First of all, doing research on the topic for the argumentative essay is essential. Gathering as much data on both sides of the issue provides you with support and with the information that you need to write the counter arguments that are necessary for a veritable argument. Try to find articles that have been written on this topic and examine them for strong points that you can modify for your own use (be sure to avoid plagiarism, of course). In addition, review the rhetorical devices used in argumentation. Be sure to adhere to the structure of the argumentative essay, starting with the strongest point. After you have finished, examine closely for any logical fallacies.
There are any number of sources that you can locate by typing in "rhetorical devices" and "logical fallacies." Here at enotes, there is an excellent outline and instruction on how to write an argumentative essay in 9 easy steps. Go to http://www.enotes.com/topics/how-write-argumentative-essay.
My best advice for argument - especially if you are starting from the ground up - is to go through the following steps:
- Formulate your topic by posing a question that clearly can be answered by two separate arguments.
- Brainstorm ideas and arguments on both sides.
- Choose the side for which you've thought of the most arguments.
- Only argue one side by categorizing your ideas into three groups.
- Within each argument category - come up with one very good or two complimentary examples.
I think too many students who choose to "sit on the fence" of a good argument essay end up losing a focus for their essay. Remember, in the end it doesn't even matter if you agree with yourself. Think of your paper like a a court case or client - you are a lawyer simply presenting the "evidence" either in favor of your case - or against it.